“Countries around the world marked the world’s population reaching seven billion Monday with lavish ceremonies for newborn infants symbolizing the milestone and warnings that there may be too many humans for the planet’s resources,” the Associated Press/MSNBC.com reports (10/31). “With the world’s population more than doubling over the last half century, basics like food and water are under more strain than ever, say experts, and providing for an additional two to three billion people in the next 50 years is a serious worry,” AlertNet/Reuters writes, adding that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says food production will have to increase by 70 percent to keep pace. “But climate change may be the greatest impediment to meeting this target, say experts,” the news agency notes (Kumar/Bhalla, 10/31).
“Millions of children and women of child-bearing age in North Korea face malnutrition which can leave them at higher risk of death or disease, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. UNICEF urged donors to fill a funding gap to prevent a “nutrition crisis” in the country, the news agency states (Nebehay, 11/1). According to Agence France-Presse, “UNICEF had asked for $20.4 million for 2011, but has received just $4.6 million” (11/1).
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan on Tuesday at the opening session of the agency’s Executive Board special session on reform in Geneva “stressed that planned reforms are intended to make the agency more efficient as it strives to improve global health amid multiple challenges that have an impact on human well-being,” the U.N. News Centre reports (11/1). Chan said “proposed reforms would see the agency become more streamlined and deliver ‘measurable results’ at country level” and “acknowledged … that parts of the WHO had become rigid and unresponsive,” the Associated Press/CTV News writes. She “urged WHO’s 34 board members to safeguard the agency’s role as global health guardian despite growing competition and budget constraints,” according to the news agency (11/1).
“The [U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization] FAO index of global food prices hit an 11-month low in October, reflecting sharp falls in grain, sugar and oils prices, the U.N. food agency said on Thursday, Reuters reports (11/3). “The agency attributes the decline to an improved supply outlook for a number of commodities and uncertainty about global economic prospects,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/3). “Nonetheless prices still remain generally higher than last year and very volatile, FAO said,” according to an FAO press release (11/3). On Tuesday, the World Bank Group released its Food Price Watch ahead of this week’s Group of 20 (G20) summit, stating that “[w]orld food prices remain high and are hitting the poorest countries hard,” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (11/1).
The U.N. reported Friday “that it is increasing its joint efforts with Cambodian authorities and aid providers to offer food assistance to some of the thousands of people that have been displaced by severe flooding recently,” the U.N. News Centre reports. According to the news service, “Some 240,000 people have been displaced by heavy rains and according to the World Food Programme (WFP), 10 percent of the rice crops have been destroyed and 265,000 hectares of rice fields have been damaged, raising the price of rice by 12 percent” (11/4).
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “reports heavy rains and flooding in parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are causing havoc among thousands of displaced Somalis in the region” and “flood-damaged roads are hampering relief efforts to thousands affected by the heavy rains,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 11/4). “UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told a press briefing in Geneva that the agency has distributed 4,500 assistance kits so far, which include plastic sheets, plastic buckets and soap,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/4). “In addition to providing emergency relief for floods, other U.N. agencies continue to increase their efforts to help Somalis who suffer from famine and insecurity,” VOA notes (11/4).
“Brazil is a world leader in the fight against hunger and its experience can be shared with other countries, visiting World Food Programme [WFP] chief Josette Sheeran said Monday … in the northeastern city of Salvador while inaugurating a local branch of a newly established Center of Excellence Against Hunger based in [the capital] Brasilia,” Agence France-Presse reports (11/7). The center “will assist governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America by drawing on the expertise of WFP and Brazil in the fight against hunger, while promoting sustainable school feeding models and other food and nutrition safety nets,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/7).
Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg on Tuesday “urged donors to give generously to assist Nicaragua and El Salvador cope with the aftermath of the recent floods, saying that the scale of the disaster is beyond what the small Central American nations can handle on their own,” the U.N. News Centre reports. According to the news service, approximately 1.2 million people in the region are affected by flooding, “[t]housands of homes have been damaged and hundreds of schools, roads and health facilities are closed,” and [w]ater-borne diseases are spreading …, she added.” Bragg also said food security was a concern, as thousands of acres of crops were destroyed, “‘making it increasingly difficult for people to get enough food for the next six months,’ she stated,” the news service notes (11/8).
The Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti on Tuesday “filed claims with the United Nations seeking damages on behalf of more than 5,000 Haitian cholera victims and their families,” the Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Daniel, 11/8).
“[A] lack of action on climate change and habitat destruction will threaten the progress of developing countries,” because environmental sustainability affects “a wide range of social issues,” including “health, education, income, gender disparities and energy production, combined with protection of the ecosystem,” according to the U.N. Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report 2011, titled, “Sustainability and Equity: a Better Future for All,” VOA News reports. The report “argues that if you invest in people’s health and schooling, the population will be a better keeper of its environmental resources over the long term,” according to the news service (Lewis, 11/8).